2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Jam. 1:2-4

The first thing I want to say is how attractive the two words “patience” and “perfect” appear to me. They fascinate me. From afar. They draw me to them with a great sense of wonderment.

Is it even possible to imagine that one could ever arrive at being “perfect and entire, wanting nothing” in the Spirit? The thought seems presumptuous. And yet the Apostle James coolly tells us here that it is possible; and he makes it appear so easy. In just a few steps, he makes it possible for us to arrive at Godly perfection.

But… You cannot just wake up one morning and say, “Abracadabra! I am perfect!” To arrive where the Apostle Paul arrived at – “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) – is an incredibly long and painful step process. But it is joyous and relieving in the Spirit.


Every believer loves dancing and rejoicing like David in the Bible. It is all good and acceptable before God to sing with joy when things are going in our favor. But have we ever stopped to think that the Bible specifically commands us to rejoice when things are going against us. Like when we are being opposed. Or when we are financially broke. Or, even, when we are sick.

The charismatic gospel teaches us that anything that comes contrary to our physical, material or financial welfare is of the devil, and that we should rebuke it. But such teachings could not be further from the truth. The true gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that these contrary things try our faith. Our faith is so precious it has to be tried by fire. It will be tried and tried until it stands pure and unadulterated.

For this reason, therefore, we ought to rejoice with extreme joy, not just when things are going well in our lives; but even more so when they are not.

Have you ever suffered a little for the gospel’s sake and rejoiced for it? If you have, you are on the right track.


“2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

I have absolutely no doubt that patience is a virtue that most of us would give anything to have. From reading this scripture, it is clear that patience is a step away from Godly perfection. The man who can exhibit Godly restraint in the face of opposition is not far from being perfected in the Spirit (or they already are).

But did you ever stop to think about the cost of patience? The Bible gives it right there. The cost of patience, the Bible says, is joyfully accepting “divers temptations” in one’s life.

The call to salvation is no picnic. On the contrary, it is a call to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and follow Christ in His sufferings and death.

The ‘King’s Kids’ creed and the prosperity gospel that birthed it both belong to the garbage dump. Those are silly and childish beliefs and they will never work patience in anyone’s heart.

What does scripture mean by ” the trying of your faith worketh patience”?

Far from the popular belief that our faith is for claiming cars and private jets, scripture here makes it abundantly clear that our faith has been given to us in order that we may endure suffering. Our faith brings far more glorious blessings than the material blessings of this world. Yes, it is true that the trying of your faith could bring you a new car, money or any other material blessing. But that is a very small blessing.

The Bible tells us what the grand prize is when it comes to the trying of our faith. The Bible says it is… patience. Patience connotes suffering. But it is also a blessing of unspeakable magnitude. Why? Because it is eternal. As our faith is tried over and over in the fire of adversity, it grows stronger and stronger and it brings down bigger and bigger strongholds of the enemy. Like our pride. Or anger. Or fear.


“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Are we so soon there? Have we so soon arrived at perfection? Yes, we have. But… not just yet. Notice that we have to “let patience have her perfect work” in order for us to be perfected.

Becoming perfect is a result of a life that is ruled by patience. If you are the kind of believer who cannot be touched, you need to know that you are not letting patience have her perfect work in you. In other words, you are not allowing the cross in your life. But the cross is exactly what you need. You need to work at killing your ego or whatever it is that is preventing you from becoming patient.

And how, pray, do you go about working on that? It is by ‘letting’. We have to allow things into our lives; things that chafe at us. In other words, be happy when trials and temptations are chipping away at your anger, pride, etc.

When we have become perfectly patient, that is when perfection begins working in us. When we have been perfected in patience, then we are “perfect and entire, wanting nothing”.

Whew! what a work! But, again, what a goal!

From Basic Principles to the Cross

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

3 And this will we do, if God permit.

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Heb. 6:1-12

The meaning of this scripture is clear: the church must move on, on to maturity. It must not remain forever teaching the Christian basic principles of “baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

The Bible says we must leave these. Moreover, the Bible relates our dwelling on these principles as a recipe for sinning against God. How is that so? Because these are basic principles in Christianity, and if we are not taught anything else beyond these, we will remain spiritual babes all our lives; and spiritual babes cannot stop sinning against God. If we do not progress beyond these principles, we shall be prone to constantly sin against God. And if we keep sinning, we risk dying spiritually.

7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

However, if we move on to maturity by being taught and holding onto the doctrine of maturity: “Jesus Christ and him crucified”, we shall arrive at the place where we are not sinning any more, and this is God’s perfect will for our lives. This was the doctrine that the early apostles taught in every church. This was the doctrine of which the Apostle Paul bound himself to know, and nothing else.

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2).

This was the doctrine that he taught the Corinthians and it made them to stop walking after the flesh and to begin walking in the Spirit (1 Corinthians chapters 2 and 3).

In the absence of this doctrine, the church quickly reverts to the flesh, for the power of God is no longer operating in their midst. The Bible declares that the doctrine of the cross is the power and wisdom of God.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

“23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:23, 24)

That is why a believer should move on from the church he started in if it continues preaching the same doctrine into his 20th year. Some churches never change their teachings. There are some churches and ministries which are actually dedicated to teaching principles like faith in God, and they have been teaching faith and nothing else for decades.

In mainstream Pentecostalism, the basic teaching is – and should be – that God is love. That we are God’s children, and that all God wants to do is to bless us. That is the doctrine of faith, and we should believe it. But we ought to move on.

The Pauline epistles clearly indicate that, after we have been taught the basic principles of Christianity, we should move on and be taught to deny self, to take up our cross and follow Christ. That is the only way we are going to grow into spiritual maturity and:

  1. Stop forever acting like babies and become responsible heavenly subjects; and
  2. Walk in the perfection of God by not sinning against Him.

After the initial act of salvation, God has another work to do in us. We cannot be forever singing, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good”. That can only be acceptable with God if we are doing God’s will in our lives. But we all know that doing God’s will cannot be accomplished by singing “God is good” all our lives. The Bible says:

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…” (1 The. 4:3)

We must move on from learning these principles and begin doing God’s will by dealing with our flesh.

This is the purpose of this blog. This blog is dedicated to teaching the church the doctrine of the cross of Jesus Christ. Not that I, the writer, consider myself to be anything. I am nothing. But God has an agenda which He desires to communicate to us, His children. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.” (1 Cor. 15:11)

It does not matter the person through whom we receive this message: it is the Holy Spirit, after all, who delivers it. The important thing on our part is that we believe it.

[God’s Word directs us to move on to maturity through the revelation of the cross in our hearts]


Of Ministry and Love

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant…

31 … and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 1 Cor. 12:1-13:1

Have you ever noticed how each member of our physical bodies fits into the body? Each part is so useful in its proper place and this fitting usefulness of each part perfects the body.

And you probably have noted also that the reason these parts work together in such perfect harmony is because they love one another. There is no doubt about it… the body loves itself!!

Finally, it most certainly will not have escaped your attention that no member of the body can do anything without the body, i.e. outside the body. Each member is dependent on the body. In the final analysis,  it is clear that the body works in perfect unity!

It is even so with the Body of Christ. Every member, put and working in their proper place, perfects the Body of Christ, His church. When each member of the Body is working out their gift in their proper place and in perfection, the church is edified and it is perfected more and more.

When it comes to gifts of the Holy Spirit, I know of dear brethren who fit in their place so well that, when they are ministering, you can feel the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit at work. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit and it is being put to good use.

Now, this is good and extremely needful in the Body of Christ. It is important that all the gifts that Christ has given the church work in perfection in order that the Body may be built up and perfected. What could be better than this?

But the Apostle Paul shows us “a more excellent way”! In other words, important as it is to have all these gifts working perfectly in the church, yet the more excellent way for them to work is when they are carried out in love.

Why is that so? It is because, although the gifts may be administered perfectly in the church, yet it is love that bonds them together.  The body is all about unity. So is the church. And where there is no love there is no unity.

It says in Colossians 3:14:

“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

This scripture tells us that if there is no love, God’s desired result for His church, i.e. perfection, will not be achieved. We could have the faith to raise the dead, but faith cannot perfect the Body (1 Cor. 13:2) simply because faith is not the bond of perfection.

The gift comes from God, and it is perfect. But the gift in itself does not perfect the Body. What perfects the Body is love.

Someone said that when we crucify the flesh we become dead as a nail. He said we become like a corpse in the morgue. But that is hardly the Bible’s description of the believer’s state. The Bible says that when we die to the flesh, we become living stones (1 Pet. 2:5)!

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

The church cannot be built up by dead stones – however ‘holy’! The church is built with living “stones”, living souls. Love cannot reside in a dead “stone”. But it can be found in a living one.

That is why the Bible always comes round to us, to the way we live. Holiness is more about how we carry on with our lives, than anything else. The bottom line with God’s Word is that it always confronts us. It desires to work in us so that our hearts and lives may conform to God’s will.

We should be thankful to God for the great ministries that He has given the church. But we cannot rest in these. We must rest in the “more excellent way”, which is love.

There are many men of God, great and small, who exercise the gifts of the Spirit perfectly well. But they all – we all – ought to learn that that line of operation alone will not perfect the church. Only love can perfect the church.

The Corinthian church is an example in perspective. This church had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in their midst. But they lacked in love and the result was that, in spite of all the gifts they had, the Corinthian church was breaking apart. There was no unity, no cohesion. They had many gifts in operation, but there was no spiritual growth, no step towards perfection. How so contradictory!!

We can see even in Paul’s description of how they ate the Lord’s supper that the Corinthian church lacked in love (1 Cor. 11:20-22). That particular account tells us that some brethren came to show off their expensive food and to oppress those who had nothing in their midst! This is completely against the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul told them, “If you want to eat your expensive food alone, please do it in the privacy of your own homes.”

The church is all about love. Love is the more excellent way. Love is the bond of perfectness.

[Below: Even the ministry of witnessing must be driven by Christ’s love; how much more the greater ministries?]


“Hallowing” Our Father – Part 3

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise…” (Mat. 21:16)

One time the president of our country was coming to our town for some national celebrations. At that time our church probably had the best keyboard in town. The keyboard was a gift from a friend in the U.S. (Americans, I think, are the most generous people on earth. I thank them, and may God bless them exceedingly).

The leader of our town’s police band happened to be a friend of mine, and he knew about our keyboard. So, one day, sometime before the celebrations were to take place, he came knocking and asked us to lend their band our keyboard for they would be playing the national anthem during the celebrations. And, he told us, he would be playing it himself. I was happy to hear him say that because he was the finest piano player I had ever met.

When the day finally came, the president arrived right on schedule and the biggest stadium in town was filled to capacity. Finally, it was time to play the national anthem. I stood as close to my friend as possible because I wanted to see him play our big keyboard.

The minute he started playing… Wow! Nothing I can say here can express both the power of that keyboard and the expertise with which the police officer played it. Speakers as big as trucks were placed all over the stadium and our big keyboard got the ultimate reward for what it was worth. It gave the sweetest music all over town!

The man was a professional piano player and he did not play the anthem in the traditional way. Instead, he played the song in an incredibly original style. I could feel all the hairs standing on end as I listened to the music. The performance was so incredibly powerful that it was all quiet all over the big stadium. No one moved and no one spoke. When he finished playing, the applause was he received a standing ovation accompanied by a long, thunderous applause.

He played many more songs over the course of the celebrations, to the enjoyment of everyone.

The policeman told me later that the president later called and personally congratulated him for his performance.

I too was awed by the talent that I saw in that man. Later on, whenever I would go to visit him, I would take a long, hard look at him and think, “This man could be playing for kings and royalty all over the world.” But in this imperfect world, things do not the man and his talents were left buried in the police barracks he lived in.

I intended to speak about the president in this illustration, but I ended up talking about my police friend! But I meant to show that if the president of your country were visiting your town you would not call up any old band to play for him. No, sir! Contrariwise, you would bring in the best band, even if it meant calling up one from a different town!

Now, when it comes to good things if you think you know good things, I can assure you that God knows them infinitely better than you do. There are many ways of praising God; but there is the best way to do it. We therefore have no reason to worship God in any old way. As a matter of fact, with God only the best way will do. So what is this “best” way?

Scripture gives us the answer:

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise…” (Mat. 21:16)

Did you see the words “perfected praise” there? What does that tell you? It tells you that God knows the best and He wants the best. When it comes to “hallowing” Him, the Bible tells us that God has perfected praise!

How did God “perfect” praise? It is by putting it in the mouths of “babes and sucklings”.

Now this is serious stuff. This is not talking of our gurgling babies. On the contrary, it is talking about the believer. It is talking of brokenness in a believer’s spirit. It is talking of humility.

Most people think God is interested in the good music they make. He is, of course, but again He is not. God is interested in our good music only if we have a humble and broken spirit. If we do not have a humble and broken spirit, God is not interested in ANYTHING we do for Him. We cannot reduce that bar in any way to please men. Jesus spent all His life here on earth doing the will of God, not of men.

This is the central meaning of the cross in our lives. The cross comes to deal with our flesh. God is more interested in a humble lifestyle than our beautiful music and songs. No song that you sing for God can move Him an inch if it is not accompanied by a humble lifestyle.

The gospel is the life of Christ that we live in our mortal bodies. That is why we must allow the cross to have its way in our lives, to humble us, that we might do the will of God.

One of the most amazing attributes that God has, as we already noted, is God’s capacity to humble Himself. This is something that the fleshly, carnal self simply cannot do. It is impossible for the flesh to humble itself. It can create many scenarios that appear to be of humility, but it can never attain to the real thing. That is why, on judgment day, many pious-looking people will be thrown into hell, because they were not.

Humility is the capacity to obey God. To obey God is to go against the flesh. To obey God, we must be in the Spirit. And to be in the Spirit we must die to self, or the flesh. And to die to the flesh requires that one crucify their flesh.

Ultimately, “hallowing” God has more to do with taking up our cross and following Christ, than singing.

Immense Grace For Our Perfection

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom. 12:1-2

Perfection is on my mind tonight, but I will probably present the subject in a different manner than you would expect. Still, I welcome you to join me as we make the long journey towards perfection, for we must.

Perfection has been on my mind for sometime now, and I came to understand that God wants me to go on towards perfection. To be perfect, the Lord showed me, is to be like Christ, and especially in the grace that He had. In connection with this, recently the Lord reminded me about our Lord Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot. God showed me in a clearer way Jesus’ attitude to Judas whom He knew was stealing from the ministry coffers (Jn. 12:6). Even though the Lord knew about Judas’ sin, yet:

  1. Jesus allowed Judas to continue keeping watch over the church funds!
  2. At no one time do we read of the Lord rebuking or even mentioning to Judas that He knew what the man was doing.

This talks of grace, immense grace. The Lord Jesus Christ had so much grace! He had the grace to be patient with Judas even under such extreme circumstances.

I haven’t yet heard of a church where the accountant or cashier stole money from the church account and it didn’t bother anybody. What I know of most churches is that if such an occurrence were brought to light there would be a small tremor in that church. Human nature (of which most of us have tons of) is such that we react with extreme hostility to the likelihood of such a situation. If a brother or sister is caught stealing, he will be made to feel the heat.

But, on the other hand, God has tons and tons of grace. I love the unflappability that Jesus had with regard to Judas. We all know that there were men amongst the disciples of Jesus – the likes of James, John and Peter – who did not have the patience that Jesus had. Had they caught onto what Judas was doing, the fellow would have been chased right into the Sea of Galilee!

The grace of our Lord Jesus is revealed even further in His ability to live with someone (this same Judas) whom He knew would one day betray Him. If I knew that somebody was intent on doing me harm, all my defences would come up. But not our Lord Jesus! Jesus calmly lived with Judas for three years while He waited for the day when Judas would betray Him.

What grace!

And how about Paul and the man whom he found sleeping with his father’s wife? In most cases when someone commits sin in the church, and especially sin of a sexual nature, he is dealt with harshly (fair enough); but it is what happens afterwards that saddens God’s heart. Much of the time, such a brother or sister is turned into a pariah and no one wants to associate with them again – ever. He or she is left to slowly die alone.

That is incredibly tragic, but it is not the heart of God towards His people. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we see the immense grace that he had. Apparently, all along he had been thinking about the same brother whom he had ordered the church to punish! In this second letter, all of Paul’s attention is once again on this brother; but now it is to plead with the Corinthian church to reinstate him into their midst. The fact that it necessitated Paul to do this indicates that no one in that church ever considered that brother worthy of salvation again. But Paul was a man who had much grace and the revelation of God’s heart, and he could allow for a repentant man to come back into the fold and even to make him feel welcome.

Lastly, let us consider the freedom that God, out of His richness, has given to us, His children. Most believers are not aware of the immense freedom that God has given the church.

I have two children, and one of the benefits that I have received as a result of living with them is that I have learned to appreciate the heart of God for His children. Sometimes my children will do something that hurts or pains me. Still, I always find that my desire is for them to do the right thing in freedom rather than through law. When my kids were young, I did not have that expectation. If they crossed me I would simply cane or spank them. Now they are much older, and I no longer even have the desire to punish them. On the contrary, I expect them to be able to understand the responsibility they have.

That realization really hit me when it first came upon me. I came to realize that that is exactly God’s heart for us. God desires us to obey and serve Him in freedom. Unlike we human parents, God will never put law on us. He is extremely rich in grace. The fullness of God’s grace is so we may arrive at the perfection, or full realization of God’s will in our lives.

In ending, I would like us to make the connection between the cross and grace. The Lord Jesus Christ had all that much grace because He carried His cross. The Bible says that He “… became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).

The Apostle Paul also had immense grace because he followed in the footsteps of Jesus. He took up his cross daily and followed Christ. He says,

“30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:30-31).

Grace is not a feel-good sensation. Grace is a work of the cross in our hearts. Grace is a surrender and denial of self.

We need grace.

Grace for peace.

Grace for joy.

Grace for righteousness.

We can only arrive at the fullness, or perfection of these things through the cross.

[Below: My desire is to have my children obey me in freedom, not through law. This also is God’s desire for us.]


A Tremendous Heart, A Tremendous Price

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Lk. 19:1-10

This Zacchaeus guy had to be joking… pay his (probably hundreds of) debtors four times the amount he owed them, and that after he had given half of his goods to the poor?! But, again, we know that the Lord Jesus Christ does not hang about with jokers (Psalms 1), so we are bound to pay careful attention to the words that Zacchaeus spoke here.

Secondly, scripture here says that Zacchaeus received Jesus “joyfully”. I haven’t read that he sang the “Joyfully! joyfully!” song. In fact it does not say that he sang any song at all. But there was a profound meaning to Zacchaeus’ joy; it was the joy of the man “… who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Mat. 13:46).

Zacchaeus had found the one thing that mattered to him, and he had no more need of the riches of this world.

Let us consider the deliberate progression of Zacchaeus’ words here. Notice he did not say, “Lord, I will settle accounts with all my debtors first, after which I will  give half my remaining goods to the poor.” No. Instead, he put himself in the most hazardous position possible, by dividing his gross earnings with the poor before he would settle accounts with those whom he had robbed along the way.

Zacchaeus put himself in a position where he would lose everything – and probably more. There was no easy way here. It was a difficult road he had chosen, one less well-travelled. Jesus called it the narrow way (Mat. 7:13). What a great price Zacchaeus would have to pay! But also, what a tremendous heart he had!

The road that Zacchaeus took has nothing to do with material goods. On the contrary, it has everything to do with our hearts. It could well be that you all you are required to do is humble yourself and ask for forgiveness from someone you have wronged; but your hard heart prevents you from doing so. You find yourself unable to pay the price.

What is so difficult for most of us to do, Zacchaeus did with incredible ease. It was the result of a humble, thirsty heart. A heart thirsty for righteousness.

Finally, let us consider something else in this scripture that is of equal significance, and which of necessity is tied in with Zacchaeus’ declaration. It is the words that Jesus spoke.

Notice that Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house” only after Zacchaeus had made his remarkable declaration. Many people think  that salvation is attained at the initial confession when they accept Jesus into their hearts. That might be so; but in this scripture, Jesus shows us that true salvation is experiential. Just as the Apostle Paul was taken up into the third heaven, there are varying degrees of salvation.

So it was that when Zacchaeus spoke the words that he did, only then did the Lord say, “This day is salvation come to this house”.

Jesus was not saying, the way we do, “This man just got saved”, after we have prayed for someone to receive Christ. On the contrary, Jesus was talking about a higher level of salvation (if we may put it that way), a perfection  in the Spirit.

Many believers think they can accept Jesus into their lives and continue living any old lives that they want. But true salvation, the Lord shows us, involves a transformation. That is why the Apostle Paul insists in Romans 12:1-2 that we must be transformed in order to be fully pleasing to God. The initial acceptance of Christ into our lives is commendable indeed, for in it we accept the redeeming work of Christ. But there is the perfecting part, for which God gives us the opportunity to lay down our lives, take up our cross and follow Christ.

And so it was that Zacchaeus, upon believing on the Lord, made this incredible declaration. On the road towards perfection, Zacchaeus paid a price, a tremendous price.

The Bible says,

“And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

And the Lord, who knows men’s hearts and who knew Zacchaeus meant what he said, replied,

“This day is salvation come to this house”

In concluding, we could well ask each one of us who reads this post, “Has salvation come to your house?”

[Below: A woman arranges fruits to sell at Marangu-Mtoni, on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro]


The Plurality of God’s Grace – Part 2

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Rom 5:10

Conceiving and giving birth to a child is one thing, but raising up that child to become the person you want them to be is a different matter altogether. But, whereas in the natural the child-rearing part is the hardest – in most cases it is an absolute nightmare; and the world is littered with the relics of many a failed mission in that regard – yet here scripture declares that God, through the gospel that so powerfully reconciled us to Him, is able to bring us to maturity with the same certainty that He reconciled us to Himself in the first place.

As much as our reconciliation with God is a miracle beyond words, yet the work of the cross in us is an even more incredible feat, guaranteed to transform our lowly lives of sin into powerful testimonies of the holiness of God. What a grace!

The second part of this amazing scripture states: “…much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Notice the “much more”. That should encourage us.

Initially also, notice that the Bible makes it clear that there is the reconciliation, and then there is the salvation. In other words, what we normally call “salvation”, the Bible calls “reconciliation”. We say, “I am saved”; the Bible says, “No, you are reconciled with God”.

According to this scripture, salvation is a process that we are undergoing right now in our earthly lives. Scripture here is equating salvation with perfection. One day, our salvation will be completed. The gospel is working in us to perfect us.

Now, let us put this into proper perspective. The first thing we need to acknowledge is that the gospel is a living Entity. The gospel is actually Christ Himself. So when the gospel works in us, it is actually Christ Himself working in us to produce in us His own character, the character of God.

Unfortunately, there are some believers who live so much in the natural they are completely unaware of the profound work that needs to happen deep in their spirits. Instead, they concentrate on superficial things.

How do we allow Christ to work in us? It is when we allow the work of the cross in us. It is when we accept tribulations, hardships, trials and persecution for the sake of the gospel. The channel through which Christ comes to live in us is the channel of suffering and death. Through our acceptance of His death Christ comes into our hearts. And when Christ comes, He comes with His life. Christ’s life in us will save us. In other words, it will transform and perfect us.

Heaven is not waiting for immature babes. Once God calls us, He gets to work in us because He does not want to spend eternity changing nappies in heaven! Have you ever noticed that, even though there are hundreds, probably thousands of deaths occurring daily in the world, yet it takes an awful long time to hear about the death of a saint. And in nearly every instance when a believer dies, people’s hearts can testify that they have died in victory.

God is busy working to mature and perfect us here on earth, that we may stand before Him perfect.

We can hereby conclude that the two-fold purpose for which Christ came to earth and died on the cross for was:

  1. To reconcile us to God through one single act of repentance; and
  2. To perfect us in the Spirit through the work of the cross.

So what should be our response to such enormous grace? We readily and joyfully accept the reconciliation part. How about we cheerily begin working on the salvation/perfecting part, which is the reason we are still down here on earth?

Paul says in Colossians: “… 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col. 1:28-29).

We cannot wait for the work of perfecting to happen in heaven. The power of the cross is there purposely to work in us now. Do not hold onto your life. Allow the cross of Christ to break and humble you.

[Below: The Master, through the cross, is putting our lives in order]


“A Child of God”

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Mat. 5:38-48

One of my childhood friend’s father used to say, “The white man is a child of God”. In observing all that the white man was capable of doing – and possibly even his comportment – this uneducated village man saw the pre-eminence that God had granted the white man over the rest of mankind. And he acknowledged it. To this day I respect this man for his words. Those were bold words to say in those days, when everyone else probably considered the white man an imperialist exploiter. No doubt today, in the current atmosphere of worsening racial hostilities, it probably would start a small world war to re-state those words. But I am sure my friend’s father would not hesitate to say them again: he was the kind of person who would stick to his convictions even if you put a loaded gun to his head.

Personally, I too consider that in the world there is the white man first, and everyone else following. That I regard to be the natural order of things. In my perception, I see that, in many ways that we cannot deny, God has placed the white man above his fellow man. That is my personal opinion.

But, of course, that is not the entire truth. It probably is not even the truth at all. This is because the truth under the New Covenant that we have with God is that the true “child of God” can only be one who has been begotten, and is walking, in the Spirit. And being spiritual has to do with character. The child of God, therefore, is one who can show forth the character of God through his or her life, attitude and everything. The white man, the black man, and any man of any color, can only be a child of God if they can bring forth the character of God in their lives. That is the truth.

There is currently a race war going on in the U.S., and it is bringing out the worst out of everyone involved. I will not delve into the murky details but, clearly, when you read the news, you can feel the bitterness, the anger, and the outright hatred gushing out of people’s hearts. That means these things/attitudes were always there, but there was nothing to bring them out. Now a situation has arisen that is stirring the waters, and the water flowing out of people’s hearts is not clean at all; it is muddy.

But this state of war is not peculiar to the U.S. alone. The entire world is seething under an unseen force, and “warfare” is written all across the face of the earth.

Nations are at war with other nations.

Citizens of one nation fight each other.

Even worse is the warfare going on inside our homes as husband fights wife, parents fight children, and relative engages relative.

Most unfortunately comes the admission that in church, too, there is warfare. And the worst part is that it is the leaders who are at the fore-front of this “church warfare”. They fight for the positions of power as well as the money. I believe this is the most inexcusable warfare of all, for it is to these very people that God has chosen to reveal Himself as a God of grace. But God’s people today are so hell-bent on getting their rights, they will fight their way right into the furnace.

All this warfare points to a fall in the character of mankind. Slowly but surely, mankind today is sinking into into the depths of the most spiritually malicious enemy of all – self. But in His words, Jesus pointed to the singular thing that can lift man again and turn him into a true “child of God”: the cross. The touch of the Master, through the revelation of the cross, brings true peace and calm in a man’s heart, because it transforms that man and makes him a loser. A true child of God is a loser. He willingly surrenders his earthly rights, just as Christ surrendered them.

That is why the church today needs a revelation of the cross. We cannot preach to the world what we ourselves are not living. We cannot teach the world character they are not seeing in us.

The New Covenant of the cross is the greatest miracle ever, and we are living right in the center of it. This, therefore, is the day when the church needs to rise forth and shine; to show forth the great riches of God’s grace. To turn the other cheek for your enemy to slap, to go two miles when one is required of us – that is true grace! This is the one single thing that is guaranteed to triumph in the face of all the hatred and violence in the world. Any other weapon will simply backfire, even a gun.

The simplicity in Jesus’ words above is awe-inspiring; and yet, to arrive at this excruciatingly simple state of affairs will require we, the church, to crucify our lives and die to self.

[Below: It is indeed well with our souls, if crucified with Christ]

Grace – Part 2

And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. Gen. 5:24

Enoch, the Bible says, “walked with God”. What does that mean? Pray, how does one walk with God?

The way this phrase is put in the Bible, it talks of fellowship. It talks of two people who are completely agreed, completely as one. If God is a God of grace, then for someone to “walk with” Him, it would only mean one thing: that the man (or woman) who “walked with God” was loaded – loaded with grace! Enoch, therefore, was a man of grace. He was full of the grace of God!

Because Enoch had so much grace, he daily walked in fellowship with God. Every day, he was able to please God. He did and thought and said things that immensely pleased God.

There are people who think that being a worship leader or being a pastor pleases the Lord. No, it does not; and certainly many of the things that we are or that we do do not please God.

I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt exactly what pleases God. What pleases God is when we are carrying His grace in our hearts. That pleases God more than anything.

I am not certain, but I don’t think there is anywhere else where it is stated in the Bible that someone “walked with God”. It probably also is not important for us to know whether or not Enoch was the holiest person who walked on the earth, given that no account of his life is written in the Bible. But to read in the Bible that he walked with God, we can only conclude that this man lived an immensely exemplary spiritual life.

One can only walk with God if that person has grace! You cannot walk with God if you are a person of, or under law, or if you are a sinner. God loves sinners; but He is not going to shake any sinner’s hand and pat them on the back and tell them we shall meet on that wonderful shore. No. On the contrary, God tells that person to repent, and to turn from his evil ways. That’s God’s grace at work. But people today are foundering their own versions of grace, where God loves the sinner so much He is going to overlook their sins even if they don’t repent. But that’s trying to make God senile, and God certainly is not senile.

As far as I know, only the blood of Jesus washes us of our sins, not any ridiculous form of love.

In the third part of this rendition, we will see exactly what grace is.

And now, with Enoch, suddenly, one day, “… he was not; for God took him”.

This proves that Enoch walked in the grace of God while he was here on this very earth. The phrase “… he was not” means he disappeared – disappeared from the earth.

There are believers today who are “hibernating” spiritually down here, somehow misunderstanding scripture and waiting for that grace to be revealed in some distant time capsule, or in heaven. But that’s a big miscalculation, for we see that Enoch did not wait for such uncertain times. And he certainly did not “hibernate”. We see that while he was here on earth, Enoch “worked” the grace of God. Enoch walked and lived and worked in the grace of God.

And then, one day, God just came down and swept up this Enoch from the earth. Whether Enoch died a natural death of whether he was taken up alive like Elijah we do not know.

But it is clear that Enoch walked with such grace before the Lord that a time arrived when God got beside Himself with love for this man and He told him, “Friend, today I am not leaving without you. Let’s go away and live together forever!”

That’s what it means when the scriptures say that “God took him”.

The truly amazing thing in all this saga is that God took Enoch to go live with Him forever. Can you imagine that? Forever!! Most of us are in a such a hurry to get to heaven we do not pause to consider that if God is going to live with someone forever, the first thing He would do is to make sure – double sure – that He will enjoy that person’s company. That is what God did with Enoch; and you can bet your last dollar that God has the best measuring tools available anywhere.

Are we sure God would enjoy our company?

And so, at a time when men were living here on earth for close to a thousand years, Enoch lived only 365 years – and he disappeared.

“… God took him”. In other words, God was so enamoured with Enoch, so attracted to him, that He “eloped” away with him the way a man elopes with the girl he loves. God just couldn’t live without Enoch. He needed him up there with Him!

I truly envy Enoch.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul – a true man of grace – says it were far much better for him to be in heaven with the Lord Jesus than to be down here. Words cannot express the fellowship that Paul anticipated on getting to heaven!

Let us now trickle down to us. Most of us live such legalistic and grace-less and sin-filled lives that, if we were to meet God face to face, there would be no pleasure in that encounter! Certainly not for God. I could be wrong, but I suspect that is why He is not in a hurry to bring many of us up to be with Him! He has no pleasure in the kind of lives we are living down here, how could He expect to be happy with us once we get to heaven?

There is, however, a small group of people whom the Lord does not call up to “be with Him” for a more positive reason. God allows these people to live long lives here on earth because He wants them to continue benefitting the church on earth. These are the truly grace-ful people. That was the case with the early apostles. And it applies also to the men and women of God who have impacted the church positively throughout history up to the present time.

Unfortunately, this second group is a very tiny portion of the total number of believers. A disproportionate figure is in the first category, those who are still around for a lack of grace in their lives. God is not a hurry to surround Himself with such people, and forever, at that! He gives them more time to soak in the grace that is all too readily available to them here on the earth, to be more perfected, so that when He finally calls them up to heaven, they will bring Him as much joy as Enoch did – and still does.

[Below: Where the grace of our Lord is to be found in men’s hearts there is love, kindness, understanding, forgiveness, and purity of heart. These were the things that Enoch carried in his heart while here on earth]


“Strive To Enter In”

26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Jn. 6:26-27

In our culture, and I believe it is so in many other cultures as well, the bride cannot just be picked off the streets and straightaway handed over to the bridegroom. Once it has been established that she is the groom’s wife-to-be, great and meticulous care will be taken to prepare this young woman for her husband on the wedding day.

I have never heard of a bridegroom personally adorning or preparing his own bride. On the contrary, he engages the services of others, who mostly do it freely out of the love they have for him. The purpose is to present the bride to the bridegroom perfect and properly adorned. That is the joy of a wedding.

It would be a strange scenario indeed to find the bridegroom, all alone with his wife-to-be, cooped up in a room somewhere while he busily tries to scrub his bride for their upcoming wedding. It is not his job to make her ready for the wedding day. But there are friends of the bridegroom, people who are intent on bringing joy to the bridegroom. These are they who take it upon themselves to make sure the bride is well-prepared for the groom. And they don’t just pour buckets of water on her and put her out to dry in the sun. No, these people are professionals in the art of bride preparation. They will work on the bride until she is spotless and without wrinkle, perfect as perfect can be. Only then will she be ready to be presented to the groom on the wedding day.

Jesus engaged the services of His friends, the men who carry the five-fold ministry, to prepare His bride for Him (Ephesians chapters 3 & 4). Christ’s bride is the church.

There is no other gospel that can perfect the church except the apostolic gospel, the gospel of the revelation of the cross of Christ. When I say the apostolic gospel I don’t mean, of course, that every person who calls themselves an apostle carries this gospel. A true apostle is someone who brings to light the gospel of a crucified life.

The gospel of the cross is the gospel that comes to deal the death blow to the flesh, that rot that is our carnal nature, so that we might be perfected in the spirit, and become men and women who comprise the church, Christ’s bride in the Spirit. Sin dwells in the flesh.

Jesus is neither going to marry a child bride, nor an imperfect bride. Every born-again believer will have to submit themselves to the exacting work of the cross in their lives in order to become a part of this Body.

The gospel of the cross was the singular gospel that the Apostle Paul preached, because it had been revealed to him that this was the only gospel that was guaranteed to bring the resultant perfecting of the saints.

The gospel of the cross is invested in the five-fold ministry. This is the ministry which Christ commissioned to reveal the crucified Christ in men’s hearts.

It is very interesting to note how many born-again believers today have embraced the charismatic gospel, which in reality is a spiritually hollow gospel based solely on miracles, healings and prosperity. Not that these things are bad in themselves, but when they come without a revelation of the cross, then they have no life in them. On the contrary, they feed the flesh. This is exactly what we see the charismatic gospel doing today. It has become a doctrine in itself, but this is not the doctrine of Chist.

Jesus did many miracles, but one day He turned on the very same crowds that were following Him. He realized exactly what they were doing. They were following Him for the loaves of bread. He had fed them the bread out of compassion, but they were now building a doctrine out of that.

And He turned on them and told them they would now have to “eat His flesh and drink His blood”. Upon hearing this, they scattered like flies.

Why should we think that the people filling up today’s mega-churches are after Jesus’ flesh and blood; in other words, that they are there specifically because they want to identify their lives with Christ in His sufferings and death? Why not, rather, should we not accept the obvious truth that many of these people are in church because they are seeking after the things of the flesh?

And it is equally true that many of these churches offer gospels that cater fully to the flesh. It is no secret that many of these churches’ leaders are after money themselves. I hear that there are pastors who are listed in Forbes magazine!

I can assure you that when the true gospel of the cross of Christ is preached, very few people will remain in the pews – or in the ministry. Many will not be able to bear it.

When the gospel comes and tells you to forgive and the revelation of the cross is not in your heart, it is like switching off the sun at midday. You cannot find your bearings. That was exactly what happened to the Jews. Everything that Jesus said after that they found hard to swallow.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (Jn. 6:60)

If the Jews said that, I can assure you that not many among the rest of us will be willing to hear it. The gospel of the cross – our identification with Christ in His sufferings and death – is a hard saying indeed. Not many people can hear it. If at Gethsemane Peter fled and left Jesus alone, I can assure you that once the true gospel has been preached not many of us will be left around.

Someone once asked Jesus whether those who would be saved would be few. Jesus did not tell him whether they would be few or many. Instead, Jesus told him to strive to enter in at the strait gate.

Let us end this post by looking at this passage of scripture.

“23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.” Lk. 13:23-30

“The strait gate”. This scripture is talking about the work of the cross in our lives. We can clearly see what will happen to those who will sidestep that work. They will be unable to cast off sin in their lives, and Jesus will disown them. They could not possibly become a part of His bride. The bride of Christ will comprise believers who have been worked on – worked on by the purifying work of the cross.

[Below: The bride, ready and prepared awaits, and is finally presented to the bridegroom]

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